Islamabad - Fruit Mandi Traders Welfare Association in Sector I-11/4 has threatened to shut their businesses for an indefinite period against what they called an unjustified tax imposed by a newly formed market committee of the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration. Members of the Fruit Mandi Traders Welfare Association held a protest demonstration against the new tax.

Addressing the protesters, Syed Siraj Agha, Chairman Fruit Mandi Traders Welfare Association announced to constitute a committee to deal with the issue what he termed not only illegal and unconstitutional but also a source of corruption and bribery. “The Market committee of ICT has been constituted after declaring Islamabad an agriculture area and given the mandate to collect Rs25,000 on account of licence fee from wholesalers and Rs12,000 from retailers each per annum, in addition to charge Rs5,000 on every trip of a truck which enters the market to offload the merchandise,” he added.

The traders said they had taken land from CDA on a 99-year lease so the ICT did not have a right to constitute a market committee to impose and collect taxes from traders which they termed as extortion. “We will block IG Principal Road and other main highways if our demands are not met,” said  Syed Siraj Agha

He warned that their protests would create shortage of fruits and vegetables in the twin cities, adding the Islamabad commissioner and CDA chairperson would be responsible for the situation.

Siraj Agha appealed to Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan to take immediate notice of the ‘high handedness’ of CDA and Islamabad Administration. He said the interior minister is in-charge of capital administration and like removing the toll tax plazas he should also stop the new type of extortion.

He said that ultimately the traders would pass on this extortion to the consumers and the prices of fruits and vegetables would go up.